Conference action is heating up in the men’s college basketball season and NCAA tournament seeding is on the line.
In the case of the Big 12, Oklahoma used Saturday to hand Kansas its third loss in a row and prove its worth as a top 25 team, drifting away from the bubble. That outcome puts the Jayhawks far out of contention in the conference race. Baylor handled Oklahoma State and the Bears and Texas likely will be in a two-way race.
Oklahoma is in third place, while Kansas, the 15-time regular season champion in the last 16 years, fell to .500 in conference play.
All the winners and losers Saturday:
Houston. The Cougars hammered Temple 68-51 to improve to 13-1 and 8-1 in the American Athletic Conference. Houston, ranked No. 8 in the Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll, is in contention for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament – with a longshot of a top seed. They’re not slowing down under coach Kelvin Sampson, who has turned this squad into a surprising top 10 team.
Baylor. The Bears (14-0, 7-0) were locked with Oklahoma State in the first half, but eventually pulled away for an 81-66 outcome to remain undefeated. Jared Butler tallied 22 points and six assists in the victory.
Villanova. The Wildcats (10-1, 5-0) defeated Providence, 71-56, and hit their stride in the second half. Coach Jay Wright’s team had a month off due to COVID-19 and continues to shake off the rust as the No. 3 team in the country.
Florida State. The Seminoles (9-2, 5-1) are starting to find their identity and blew out a reeling Clemson team, 80-61. Coach Leonard Hamilton got 39 points from his bench. Florida State is staying in the No. 3/No. 4 range for NCAA tournament seeding.
Kansas. The Jayhawks (10-5, 4-4) lost their third consecutive game, 75-68 to Oklahoma, the first time that’s happened since 2013. Coach Bill Self will continue to look for solutions to prevent his team from losing four in a row for the first time since 1988-89 – Roy Williams’ first season as KU coach.
Virginia Tech. The Hokies lost 78-60 to Syracuse and looked like the worse team in this ACC tilt. After trailing all game, but inching close midway through the second half, Virginia Tech stumbled as ‘Cuse went on a 31-9 run to close. The outcome isn’t ideal for the Hokies, who play three of their next four games on the road.
Connecticut. The Huskies (7-3, 4-3) fell to Creighton, 74-66, in a Big East game against a better team while leading scorer James Bouknight, who is recovering from elbow surgery, remains out. But it was the second opportunity for coach Dan Hurley’s squad to prove itself as a top 25 team and Big East contender alongside the Bluejays and Wildcats. Bouknight scored a career-high 40 points in the Huskies’ 76-74 overtime loss to Creighton last month.
Minnesota. The Gophers (11-5, 4-5) fell 63-49 to Maryland in a Big Ten contest. Despite a solid non-conference portfolio, now they’re 4-5 in conference play. Minnesota just doesn’t shoot the ball well, and it showed. The Gophers rank 283rd nationally in field goal percentage defense.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.